AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT Review
Published: 15th December 2020 | Source: AMD | Price: |
Hmm. Well that was disappointing.
The RX 6800 and RX 6800 XT are spectacular cards, bringing huge performance at very affordable pricing and are a glorious return to form for the Radeon brand. The RX 6900 XT was, on paper, only a little bit more powerful and this was born out in our graphs, where it looked like a heavily overclocked RX 6800 XT rather than a card which costs 50% more than it's sibling. The one minor weakness of the first generation of Ray Tracing capable Radeon cards is that RT element, and the RX 6900 XT doesn't fix this by throwing more hardware at the problem, nor does the clock speed increase particularly help.
We know that it's almost churlish to talk about pricing when the RTX 3090 is pretty much twice the price of the RTX 3080, and we guess by that indicator the RX 6900 XT is a lot better. However, the RTX 3090 is very much a different card to the 3080, having more of everything. Plus Nvidia are on their second generation of RT capable cards and this is something that shows up starkly in our games that can support it, where the Ampere cards are miles ahead of the Turing cards, and the Radeon is around the Turing levels of performance. That's not to say that the RX 6900 XT is a poor performer, far from it, it's just nowhere near the gap in performance from it to the 6800 XT that there should be for the seriously big chunk of extra change AMD are asking you to invest.
When it's good it's very very good. Just take a look at the graph smashing performance in F1 2020 or Dirt 5 or even Borderlands 3. But the rest of the time it's only around the RTX 3080 levels of frames per second - see nearly all our other results. If you're looking at one graph to encapsulate the issues we have with this particular card, or perhaps to emphasise how much we love the 6800 XT, then look at Control. Even without Ray Tracing the gap in FPS between the 6900 XT and the XFX 6800 XT is 4 FPS @ 1080, 5 FPS @ 1440 and 1 FPS @ 4K. One. We don't know about you but we don't want to spend £300 to gain 1FPS in non-RT scenarios. With RT it's 4/1/1 FPS difference respectively. Of course there are times when the 6900 XT accelerates ahead by a big margin, but gaining 10 FPS when you're already seeing 150+ is much less significant than gaining 5 when you're around 50 FPS.
If you're absolutely determined to have the best Radeon that AMD offer and money is no object at all, then the RX 6900 XT will delight you. If you can find a title where it really shines you'll be doubly pleased. If, however, you're just looking to get the best gaming value for money then the RX 6800 XT or even the plain RX 6800 is still the one to go for. It's much cheaper and not all that much slower. This is still powerful enough to win our Enthusiast Award. Just be aware of what you're spending your hard earned on.
NB - In the time since we first wrote this review - although of course due to the server issues you've not read it yet - we postulated that this felt like a 'golden' RX 6800 XT rather than a game changer and maybe a super fast 6800 XT would be around the same performance level. At the time it was an idea, but since then we've *spoilers* tested the ASUS Liquid Cooled RX 6800 XT and found it matching the RX 6900 XT. So yes, save your money and by the best of the 68s instead of this 69.